Social Media Overdrive? The Ironing Board Technique. 3 Easy Steps to Managing Your Social Media Time
If you`re anything like me, you log in to your email account first thing in the morning, the first dose of hot caffeine still steaming in your hand, and find dozens of messages from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest tempting you in all directions. You, follow up your leads, click on your links, start following new folk, and before you know it, half your morning is gone and you haven`t even started to do what you actually switched on your laptop for!
Welcome to Social Media Overdrive. In its most severe forms, this can actually lead to mental illness. But even in its milder forms it can be stressful and a black hole pulling in whole days of your life.
As a writer with a Day Job, I can`t afford to waste a single minute of my precious writing time, and even hours I spent legitimately promoting or marketing my work often feel like time stolen away from my writing.
One day I got to think about how I do my ironing. I actually don`t mind ironing at all, as I do it watching my favourite shows on TV. The stupid thing is, I used to keep putting it off! I just couldn`t seem to take control of this stupid basket of laundry and get it done – even if there was only a few items in there that would only take 15 minutes to iron.
Then I discovered a mental trick, and it`s worked for me ever since. I found that if I told myself "I will now iron for 30 minutes", I stopped putting the task off, took control of it, and got it done effortlessly, as if by magic. Often I don`t even need to spend the full 30 minutes ironing, but that doesn`t really matter, because I find that once I have taken control of the time slot, the work does itself.
With my social media time, it`s actually the other way round: I don`t have a problem starting my Facebook and Twitter tasks, I have a problem stopping. But the principle is the same: once you take control of the time, the tasks just fall into place in the time available.
Here`s how it works:
1) The "Laundry Basket". This is the list of social media tasks you have to do for today. It might be consolidating your social media activity through Hootsuite, it might be joining Facebook groups that link in to your interests, it might be replying to Tweets or following new Twitter accounts. Phase one is: jot down a "laundry list" of your social media tasks for today only, in any order, just like your items in the laundry basket.
2) Now, look through your list and highlight the tasks that are your priorities for today`s social media session. It should be no more than 3, but ideally only1 or 2. This forces you to prioritize, which gives you clarity about what you are really trying to achieve.
3) Now, set a fixed time-frame in which to do what you have set out to do. This should be no more than 30 minutes, tops, but ideally only 15 minutes, or even less. The fixed time frame is the key to keeping you on task, and will stop you from getting side-tracked. If you`re tempted off your assigned tasks for today` session, you`ll have to ask yourself whether you actually have time for this lead/contact/ in the few minutes still left in your time slot. If you do, fine, if you don`t, drop it and move on.
That`s it. Job done. And you still have the rest of your day ahead of you!